Rescuers of Jews

Zubovienė (Čiurlionytė) Danutė Sofija

Vladimiras ZUBOVAS

When the music teacher B. Elinienė, a young fair-haired woman, entered the hall of the Čiobiskis children's home in the summer of 1944, a small, dark girl with large, slightly-slanting eyes left a group of children and ran towards the visitor, shouting, “It is MY mother!”
What was the voice that whispered the truth to the four-year-old Estera Elinaitė? Was it the same one she would surrender to later, when performing sonatas by L.van Beethoven or piano concertos by J. Brahms and F. Chopin? For, although little Estera had several mothers and kind-hearted guardians, her true mother was luck.
...Estera took her first steps in a strange attic, near German headquarters. She and her mother, along with the family of the shoemaker Apuokas, had found refuge in the homes of kind people. It was not safe to stay any longer in one particular place. For instance, they had previously found shelter with a quiet man Pranevičius in a remote street, but the neighbours objected to a Jew being hidden nearby. That was when B. Elinienė made up her mind to address people whom she knew only from their outstanding names and work.
Sincerity and warmth surrounded everyone who found shelter in the home of the Čiurlioniai-Zubovai. B. Elinienė was not even aware that there were more refugees in the house. She rejoiced when she saw the tiny storeroom in the cellar and found it hard to understand why Danutė Zubovienė was shyly apologizing for not being able to offer her a cosier place. It was because the more spacious room sheltered the engineer Anatolijus Rozenbliumas with his wife Raja, son Mika, and Raja's parents, the Kenigsbergai, all of whom had escaped from the ghetto, and later, Leonas Gurevičius, a doctor epidemiologist from Kaunas.
Cycling round rural areas, Vladimiras Zubovas searched constantly for a safer place for ever-new ghetto escapees. He would maintain contact with his friend Petras Baublys, a children's doctor and the head of the Lopšelis orphanage.
An even safer place was found for little Estera in the orphanage of the Benedictine church in Čiobiskis, where another five Jewish children with forged papers lived until the end of the war.
Here, where Čiurlionis' paintings looked at you from the walls, new people would come, unburden their hearts, ask for advice. The hosts tried not only to sympathize with them and comfort them, but also to help them otherwise in the hard hour. An atmosphere of exceptional spirituality dominated here. The writer Sofija Čiurlionienė and her daughter Danutė Zubovienė, the author of numerous books for children, were involved at the time with their literary work. The architect Vladimiras Zubovas continued his research into the history of architecture. Like Balys Sruoga, a writer who was taken hostage by the Nazis and imprisoned in the Stutthof concentration camp, Vladimiras Zubovas (the designer of Balys Sruoga's house) also considered himself a representative of Lithuanian intellectuals who assumed responsibility for the nation's dignity. By their lives and noble deeds this family manifested the ideals of beauty and goodness declared in their own works.

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 2,
The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Vilnius, 1999
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